What to Do When You Lose Your Job

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Two years ago, I lost my job as a Human Resources Coordinator. It couldn’t have come at a worse time: I was dealing with the loss of someone close to me, and had just closed on my first home – move-in day was scheduled for six days later. To make it worse, I loved my job. All of a sudden, I was unemployed.

I could have looked for someone to blame or confined myself to my bed, depressed. Instead, I resolved that nothing would cause me to lose the house I had worked so hard to buy. I devoted everything I had to my job search – and started my new position 5 weeks later.

Based on my personal experience and experiences with candidates, here are some things to keep in mind if you suddenly find yourself out of work:

1. Your job does not define who you are. Since we spend so much of our time with work, our jobs tend to become intertwined with our self worth. Without a job, we feel lost, without a sense of purpose. Remember that you are a person with core competencies that you can take with you to another position.  Also, remember that in the grand scheme of things, this is only a very small part of your life – a temporary setback.

2. Let your emotions run their course. You will grieve the loss of your job as you would any loss. Don’t be surprised to feel denial, anger, bargaining, depression and ultimately, acceptance. Remember that it is up to you whether you want to discuss details – if you don’t, then simply tell those who ask that it’s personal.

3. Decide on a course of action. Evaluate your personal finances to determine if you need to find your next job right away.  If you don’t have a formal degree, would it fit into your life to go back to college or trade school? The unemployment percentage is much lower for workers with a Bachelor’s Degree or higher. Will you look for the same type of job in the same industry, or is a point where you could consider a career change? Think about what companies you have always wanted to work at. Target those companies.

4. You may have to reconsider your expectations.  Your next job does not have to be the job you stay in for the rest of your life – it may be a stepping stone. However, when interviewing, you should be genuinely interested in the position. Focus on what you can learn from a new environment, as well as how you can contribute to the company as an expert if you were previously at a higher level.

What you are willing to settle for depends on what type of lifestyle you lead. If you need a paycheck to put food on the table, you may have to reconsider the type of work or salary that you are willing to consider. If you were previously working in a management role, you may consider a staff level position. If you were in direct hire position, you may consider contract work. Most importantly, if you spent many years with your previous employer, you will not be able to expect the same salary and benefit package from day 1 at a new employer.

5. Swallow your pride. There is nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it. This may include asking friends or recruiters to assist in revising your resume, applying for state assistance benefits, or simply asking a friend to listen. In today’s world, a large percentage of your network has experienced the same feelings you are going through.

6. Remember that unemployment doesn’t last forever. Too often we hear candidates say, “I’d rather not lower myself to that type of work/that level of pay. I’m better off staying on unemployment.” With the cuts in unemployment extensions, unemployment benefits are limited. Plus, companies tend to frown on large gaps between jobs – the longer you are unemployed, the harder it will be to find a position. Further, it may be difficult to get used to the workplace again after a long break. It is better to start your search now than to scramble as your benefits run out.

7. Don’t expect a job to find you – it takes active work to find a job. It is great to post your resume on job boards for recruiters to find. You should actively apply for jobs, and follow up via phone on the status of your application. However, 60-80% of jobs are found through networking. Get out there and talk to previous colleagues, managers,  friends and family. Join industry groups if you have not already, both in person and on LinkedIn. Make sure everyone knows that you are looking.  Personally, I found my new role by networking with a former colleague who had worked at Adecco in the past.

8. Keep busy and keep your technical skills up to date. With 40+ hours per week on your hands, you will likely feel restless. Think about the things you have always wanted to do, and take this time to do it. Having too much time on your hands could lead you to feel sad, lonely or at a loss. Worst of all, it may be hard for you to return to a schedule when you do find a job. Instead, pursue a goal or hobby that will better your life and remind you what you are capable of. Myself, I got heavily involved in jujitsu, kickboxing and muay thai – and lost 40 pounds in the process.

9. Don’t place blame – and don’t burn bridges. It doesn’t matter whose fault it is that you lost your job in the long run. Playing the blame game will get you nowhere, whether you are blaming your former employer or yourself. Focus on the future and accept that what is done is done. Maintain a good relationship with your previous employer if possible – you may need them as a reference. If you were in the wrong, apologize and move on.

10. Reevaluate your ways when you do find a job. If there were concrete reasons that led to you losing your last job, evaluate your weaknesses (both technical skills and soft skills) and work to improve them. You don’t want to find yourself in the same situation again if it can be avoided.

 

Jenni Chelenyak About Jenni Chelenyak

Jenni currently works with Adecco’s global Information Management team as a Business SME on the Candidate Management Programme - Social Media. She’s been with Adecco’s Professional Staffing division since 2010 and held roles in on-boarding and compliance, client account management and technical recruiting. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, spending time with family and friends, yoga and working with an animal rescue group.

Comments

  1. 2012 is greatest time in history. Big companies are waiting biggest financial collapse after Great Depression
    and they do not want to hire.
    How do people find a new job in his situation. That lady just won a lottery, others will lose.

    • Jenni Chelenyak Jenni Chelenyak says:

      Companies were skittish throughout 2011, but 2012 has seen an increase in direct hire. Companies are again trusting that the economy will recover. Yet, when companies are unsure, they tend to hire contract workers. Try reaching out to your local Adecco office if you have not already – they can be found at http://www.adeccousa.com.

      It is not about winning a lottery, but keeping in mind that things don’t happen to you – you make things happen.

  2. It’s a bummer being unemployed, it’s seems there is always an obstacle trying to get in the way, after all, I’m not the only one. Thanks for the positive story Jenni, I sure need to make a mind adjustment and a career change!!

  3. Nick Barkley says:

    I was wondering if I could post an employment application with you and get on your mailing list for jobs offered. I am currently working at a plant in Smyrna,Tn. and use to work with a person who went through you as a temp. I got hired in permanent and they let the fellow go who worked for you the day after new year’s day. Happy new year uh? the cause of this is that they fired all the old management and replaced them with new ones who all came from another company who got closed down under there care.to cut a long story short this new manager is writing a lot of people up for silly stuff and treating all the maintenance mechanics like school kids well I have had enough and want out if I had somewhere to go in the maintenance field but I only have a year in a s one but have been a mechanic for over 35 years And an electrician for the last 11Years.Please reply if you are interest in me working for you as a temp for hire.Thanks for your time reading this ,Nick

    • BJ Koetsch says:

      Try VW and Amazon.com here in Chattanooga, TN they are always looking for electricians and mechanics. Amazon.com has three new distribution centers either open or being built close to Nashville, check their website. Another place would be Alston, they have been expanding.
      Thought about going back to school at Univ. of Phoenix, one night a week classes. I did and received by BS in Business Management last year.
      I am unemployed (being Tech Support) since January and I am still hoping to locate a job. Like to relocate but cannot afford it until I land a job somewhere.

    • Jenni Chelenyak Jenni Chelenyak says:

      Nick, please reach out to our Gallatin office. If they are not the closest branch to you, they will refer you to a closer branch. I am in Detroit and only handle Detroit opportunities; but you may want to ask them about opportunities at TRW in Lebanon, TN if that is close to you. Their number is 615-451-1900.

  4. Its seems to be like we have been in this soft to hard recession alot longer then most people might think.
    We are having waves of doubt with small rays of hope sometimes short lived. There is to some degree
    to much speculation which to be honest is many so called professional opinions and how we perceive them can lead to good or bad judgements. I myself have been unemployed over 3 years and have used
    Recruiters, Job Boards, what networking I could do and of course out there on LinkIn with little to no
    results. Also have created to styles of resumes. Have any suggestions?

    • Jenni Chelenyak Jenni Chelenyak says:

      It gets more and more difficult to find a job the longer you are unemployed. Speaking honestly, companies usually look for recent employment, especially in a technical field. You have to find a way to spin the unemployment and show what you have been doing to keep your skills relevant. Depending on your specific industry, this will mean different things. This article here might help – and I encourage you to reach out to your local Adecco office (you can find it on adeccousa.com – choose the office locator at the bottom). http://www.jobsearchguy.com/job-search-general/is-there-a-work-gap-on-your-resume/

  5. I really like that I am always a positive person. I lost my job for a silly issue. I have my DE I have been in Management and Underwriting for over 12 years. I left a Contract job to take a remote UW job. I was so excited and was 1 of 4 that past the test at the end of 3 weeks with 100%. I am not ashamed to say I was let go because they could not prove my High School. Yes High School, not college but High School which I have been out of for over 25 years. I did everything I could to get what they needed, even went to the Governor’s Office. I requested my Military Documents to include Education documents but that would take up to 90 days. I was not upset, or anything I told them I was grateful for what I learned and that if it was there policy then I would be ok with it. My only thing is any company should check everything before they fly you across the country and have you work for going on 4 weeks. It was a wonderful experience and I was on the phone and email looking for a new job ASAP. Updated LinkedIn etc. Life happens and you move forward. One door closes so a much better one will open. I have never been through this but I am too strong to let it get me down. I excel at everything and looking forward to doing it again. In my case the school lost my file as I have been out of school for over 25 years. I accept responsibility that I lost my document but not that the school lost it too. Funny I have never had any UW position look so hard at high school over college. I have what I need from the Board of Education so this will never be a problem again but companies should do all background prior to hiring always, especially if the person already has a job and would leave for the perm.
    You are your future and the positive people always suceed.

    • Jenni Chelenyak Jenni Chelenyak says:

      Gloria, you have a wonderful attitude and I am sure that comes across in your interviews. It is great to see someone like you who can see the positive in a tough situation!

  6. Ava Romar says:

    I am wondering why I don’t get any bites from my resume. I have an Associates in the Health Field and can’t land a technical job. I wish I knew where I was going wrong. I am in a nice position currently, I just want more responsibilities and of course a better paycheck. I am thankful for a job. I am a people person. I love to help people.

    I was unemployed for 7 months in 2009 after my position was terminated, while I was out on FMLA. It is a job looking for a job. You do have to keep your head above water. Swim or you will sink. I have been swimming continuously to stay alive and enjoy life. Life can be hard but you can make it.

    • Jenni Chelenyak Jenni Chelenyak says:

      Ava, I’d suggest reaching out to your local Adecco office and asking a recruiter to take a look at your resume. Most will review for free even if they cannot place you. If they won’t, please feel free to send it to me at jennifer.chelenyak@adeccona.com. Companies use keywords, so it is all about two things: presentation and using words the search engine will pick up. Also, make sure to follow up on applications since job boards generate hundreds of applications, and you don’t want to get lost in the shuffle. (A recruiter could help you there as well).

  7. Fabienne says:

    I just found out today after teaching my class for a whole year, that the community college is going to drop the class. I have been teaching over three years in the community college area. I have change my career path to the school system because it was hard to find a job in the coroporate world. What is the best thing to do at this moment. I really want to go back to the corporate world but the job market is really hard. I will do anything right now. Any suggestions

    • Jenni Chelenyak says:

      It depends what type of field you were in. If you were in a technical field, you may need to pursue training to get your skills up to date – a lot changes in 3 years.

      Your best bet is to make sure you can get in touch with a live person to explain your situation – follow up applications with a phone call. Many employers will understand the change you made with the severity of the economic downturn that we faced. Make sure your resume includes your teaching – it is better to show experience in an alternate field than to look as if you spent the last three years not working at all.

      Also, make sure you address the issue in your cover letter or e-mail summary when submitting your resume.

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